Country Profiles

Georgia - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Georgia is located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia identified by Conservation International as a biodiversity hotspot. Forest habitats are of the greatest importance to Georgia, with current coverage at 41% of the national territory (this figure has remained steadfast over the last decade). About 65% of species from the Caucasus region depend on forests. There are also 18 critical freshwater habitats however only 26% of this total area is protected at the moment. Under the TEEB scoping study, for which Georgia was a pilot country in 2012, five core economic sectors linked to natural capital and the services derived from it were identified, namely: energy, tourism, agriculture, mining and forests.

Ecotourism is one of Georgia’s most rapidly developing sub-sectors. The gross annual income of local people from nature-based tourism-related activities in Tusheti is estimated at USD 1 million. The establishment of the Borjom-Kharagauli and Mtirala national parks has had a positive impact on honey production and quality (160 households living in the Borjom-Kharagauli National Park support zone are engaged in beekeeping, with the gross annual income of each household at GEL 5 5002). Fifty-three percent of the population is engaged in agriculture. Possibilities related to sustainable hydropower production are being explored.

Positive developments can be reported on the status of certain species. Although deer remain critically endangered and included on the Red List of Georgia, their numbers have increased since 2007 due to measures that have been carried out. Moreover, it is believed that the leopard may have been preserved in mountainous regions. The lynx is also listed on the Red List of Georgia as critically endangered, however research conducted in 2012 in a semiarid ecosystem of the country revealed that the number of individuals may be higher than suspected.

However, all 6 species of sturgeon found in coastal waters and river deltas are threatened and included in the Red List of Georgia. Between 1995 and 2005, trout populations decreased by at least 30%. Within the last decade, owing to habitat fragmentation and degradation, the Caucasian Salamander, an endemic amphibian, and the Caucasus Viper, an endemic reptile, have decreased considerably in numbers. All three species of dolphins found in the Black Sea are included in the IUCN Red List. Data collected in 2014 revealed that around 18,000 harbour porpoises and 16,000 white-sided dolphins gather in the territorial Black Sea waters of Georgia during the winter (since 1999, a five-mile-wide seawater area has been included in Kolkheti National Park which is located on a Black Sea coastal plain).

Among birds of prey, the most endangered is the Eastern Imperial Eagle. The Trialeti Mountain Range and Iori Plateau are especially well-known for their diversity in bat species yet these populations have declined recently due to habitat degradation and more frequent disturbance of their shelters. A decrease in the number of habitats and illegal hunting are the main reasons for a reduction in the number of ungulates, the rarest species among them being Capra aegagrus.

Twenty percent of Georgia’s endemic flora comprises calciphilos lithophytes, observed in the limestone ridges of Kolkheti and presently endangered. Another 80% of endemic plants associated with limestone habitats are endangered, due to overgrazing, infrastructure development, tourism and recreation and global climate change. Invasive fungus disease poses significant threat to endangered woody plants included in the Red List of Georgia, such as the chestnut tree, Imeretian oak, Colchic box tree and elm tree. Over the last 2 to 3 years, the Colchis box tree disease has spread across up to 65% of the Kintrishi protected landscape area.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Direct threats to biodiversity include: degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats; overexploitation of natural resources; environmental pollution; introduction of alien invasive species and climate change.

The causes of the above threats are linked to the share of the population living in poverty which, in turn, leads to the unsustainable use of natural resources for energy, food and financial benefits; lack of awareness regarding the values of biodiversity and the significance of its preservation; insufficient incorporation of biodiversity values in policy documents, strategies and programs; legislative gaps in the regulatory sphere for biological resource utilization; and a lack of resources for exercising biodiversity preservation laws and procedures.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Adopted by Government Decree on 8 May 2014, Georgia’s new NBSAP (2014-2020) was prepared in the light of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets. In contrast to Georgia’s earlier NBSAP (2005), the current NBSAP addresses implementation from a more holistic, cross-cutting and ecosystem-based perspective. CBD’s Gender Plan of Action was also fully considered in the course of its preparation. Twenty-one national targets have been set to achieve both the 2030 Vision and the strategic goals and targets of the global agenda and are accompanied by indicators, objectives, critical assumptions, actions, timeframes, responsible implementing bodies, and sources of potential funding.

To follow up on the results of the TEEB pilot survey, a roadmap of activities will be implemented in 2015 and 2016 which aims to comprehensively analyze the economics of biodiversity and ecosystems. The intention is to mainstream results in national accounting systems and relevant institutional, regulatory, legal and monitoring frameworks.

A Committee for Supervising and Monitoring NBSAP Implementation will be established by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection and ensure broad stakeholder engagement, including with the economic sectors and local authorities. Georgia also plans to develop a National Resource Mobilization Strategy.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

“Garden Birdwatch” is being implemented countrywide and involves teachers and schoolchildren from 107 public schools.

There has been significant progress regarding certification and labelling schemes that enable traders, processors and consumers to choose products that have been produced in accordance with sustainable production principles. In 2011, Caucascert Ltd. received European accreditation, and thus is authorized to issue certificates valid in the EU. In the same year, 71 producers were certified as “organic” according to international standards.

Efforts have been made to establish voluntary forest certification and introduce the main principles of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The National Forest Concept was approved in 2013. A Forestry Code is under elaboration and expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Through the application of ecosystem-based approaches to avoid overfishing and implementation of recovery plans and other measures, Georgian fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems. In the Black Sea waters of Georgia, demand on anchovy is highest and, while the harvest volume of this species has increased seven-fold in the last five-year period, it does not exceed the set limit. In addition, Georgia is currently in the process of elaborating a legal framework for the provision of sustainable management for aquaculture.

The coverage of protected areas increased from 4% in 2001 to 9% in 2014. Priority conservation protected areas connecting corridors have been identified. The establishment of eco-corridors is ongoing in the Lesser Caucasus. Five protected areas are being administered in accordance with management plans.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Georgia/European Union Association Agreement (June 2014) includes important commitments for the conservation of species and habitats and the sustainable use of biological resources. A draft Law on Biodiversity is currently under consideration by stakeholders and will be harmonized with the Environmental Directives of the European Union.

The Law on Genetically Modified Living Organisms was adopted in September 2014. The introduction of GMOs into the natural environment in Georgia is banned by this legislation. The application of GMOs for nutritional purposes and fodder as well as for scientific research is permitted. Genetically modified pharmaceutical products are not yet regulated.

The process for ratifying the Nagoya Protocol is ongoing.

Georgia is a member of the program to develop the Emerald Network in Central and Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, currently being implemented in 7 countries and supported by the Council of Europe. Under the program, 21 biodiversity hotspots have been identified and associated scientific data and maps prepared. In 2018, Georgia expects to include its first areas in the Emerald Network.

Georgia actively cooperates with the countries of the Caucasus Ecoregion. In 2011 and 2012, the Ecoregion Conservation Plan for the Caucacus, adopted in 2006, was updated to align with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Together with other countries in the Black Sea region, Georgia is undertaking actions in the Black Sea under the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution (Bucharest Convention).

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The development of a unified national system for assessing the status of biodiversity, threats and effectiveness of measures implemented in this regard has been ongoing since 2008. To date, 25 indicators have been selected using the Pressure-State-Response (PSR) framework. A website has also been created for this system which currently publicizes the findings of surveys conducted with the use of indicators.

Georgia expects that, by 2020, the status of biodiversity has been assessed (state of species and habitats) through the improvement of scientific and baseline knowledge and the establishment of an effective monitoring system (National Target C.1).